Monday, January 16, 2012

Practical winter safety day

A week of winter-safety training ended on Saturday with a full day of practical training in front of Longyearbreen. It was organized into 4 different stations with different types of emergency situations and each group consisting of between 30 to 40 people.

Avalanche accident
The scenario was a slab-avalanche with 3 known missing persons. I was in charge of the rescue operation and arrived first on the scene with 15 persons from our group; the rest arriving shortly after.

We grabbed avalanche probes and shovels and rushed inn after making sure the accident site was safe. We then made a hasty search for avalanche beacons and found our first victim alive after a short time. (The search was complicated by the fact that the instructors would remotely turn on and off beacons to confuse us). When the rest of the group arrived, they were organized into probe searching teams focusing on the areas where equipment was found on the surface.

It is a challenge to keep track on such a big group, and make that resources are used systematic and efficient, and that people are just not searching at random. I focused on always dividing into smaller groups with specific tasks and areas and making sure to appoint a temporary group leader. Another challenge with such big groups is the inevitable problem of people not putting their beacon into search mode. To solve this, I tried having the whole group actually turn off their beacons, while giving a few people the task of making a new search.

In the end, we found 4 out of 3 people with one person dead.

This was probably the most challenging, but at the same time, the most exciting part of the practical training. I feel that I did quite well, although some time were wasted at the beginning organizing the search a bit to much. There were also some gaps in the probing teams and I should probably have stressed the teams a bit more on keeping correct distance.

First aid after snow scooter and avalanche accident
At this post we played through two scenarios. In the first scenario I played the victim of a snow scooter accident. Me and a friend had been out driving snow scooters when we suddenly feel down from a ridge. I was unconscious, while my friend had broken her knee.

In the other scenario we had four victims from an avalanche accident. The person I worked on was not breathing, so we gave CPR through the whole scenario while stabilizing the neck.

Relaxing to play the victim and perhaps not so rewarding only doing only CPR on the second scenario.

Crevasse rescue
Again, I was the victim, and this time I had fallen down a crevasse. The other team roped me up, using a simple pulley system (Although it took quite a lot of time). Afterwards we used a little bit time on preparing a 6-point pulley system which is much more efficient.

Mostly waiting (for me) and therefore not so interesting.

Emergency camp
We made an emergency camp using the emergency boxes used by UNIS, boil water and perform first aid on a victim that had broken her leg. I splinted her leg using the rod of a shovel and a first aid splint tied together with the straps from the sledge. We then got her into the tent and made sure she was warm.

Fun and good to have done, but did not really learn anything new.

After this exercise we got a visit from the super-puma rescue helicopter which is used on Svalbard. They demonstrated both landing and roping people up. It is not hard to imagine how beautiful the sound of the helicopter must sound when you're actually getting rescued.

 We then ended the day with a theoretical exam before getting drunk - hurrah!

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